5 cent coffee

If we here at Bandwidth got a nickel for every time we came across a band as unclassifiable as 5 Cent Coffee, well … we’d be broke. Formed in the winter of 2005 while on a road trip to New Orleans where they painted a sign that screamed 5 Cent Coffee!, this Vallejo three-piece returned home and got started by covering David Bowie songs on the ukulele. “We call ourselves neo-skiffle junkyard blues, which is an American interpretation of a British interpretation of an American tradition,” says singer Smitty “Spitshine” Delacroix, who went on that trip to the Big Easy with his wife and bandmate, Doodles LaRue. The trio was completed when bassist Slick McCoy, a downstairs neighbor, heard the two practicing the chords to “Lady Stardust,” brought up his bass and started playing along. “Coincidentally, he liked drinking, playing music and dressing in funny clothes as much as we did, so suddenly our duo was a trio.” Since then 5 Cent Coffee has staged elaborate and ambitious tribute gigs dedicated to performing Prince’s album “Purple Rain,” (billed “When Ukes Cry”) as well as “Everything’s a Dollar in this Box: The Songs of Tom Waits on Cheap Instruments.” This year they celebrate the release of their new album, “Bourbon & Beans,” before heading over to dive into a tour of Japan with sushi and sake.

Lineup: Doodles LaRue, vocals, button accordion, washboard, junk percussion, 17 1/2-pound chain; Smitty “Spitshine” Delacroix, vocals, ukulele, guitar, washboard, megaphone; Slick McCoy, bass, vocals.

1. 5 Cent Coffee’s music should be filed between:

“Charles Bukowski Sings the Blues” and “Stravinsky vs. James Brown: the Duets Album.” I’m not sure that either one of those records actually exists, but they should.

2. The soundtrack to what movie would your music best match?

“Liver Failure & Other Stories,” or maybe “Barfly 2: The Musical.” We drink a lot of bourbon and would like to think we’re famous for our “beer breaks” during live shows. Plus we like rice and beans – mostly because it goes really good with beer and whiskey, hence the name of our album (shameless plug alert), “Bourbon & Beans.”

3. If you could collaborate on a song with any person, living or dead, who would that be?

That would have to be our hero and patron saint, the one and only Tom Waits. Second choices would be Phil Lesh, Marlene Dietrich and Leadbelly, depending on which one of us you ask.

4. If a junior high school asked you to play a cover song at the next talent show, what song and school would you choose?

The Mormon hymn “Put Your Shoulder to the Wheel.” We’d put it in minor and swing it, then make Doodles perform it in pasties and a G-string.

5. What is the meaning of life?

Either whiskey and courage or gin and red meat. We can’t decide.